Dublin, a view from Google European HQ. All rights reserved by Avant-Hard.
What happend to Avant-Hard after she left Berlin? How did it feel to leave the hip and jive dark-dancing mass? Where did Avant-Hard go and what does she drink now if not Club Mate?
The life after Berlin brought a massive change. If there is no change, you’re not living. In Berlin I was comfortable living the uncomfortable life. I was cleaning apartments while photographing festivals, writing blogs, editing videos, managing social media, organising events, fighting for the intern rights, doing city tours and graphic design for free or very low pay and dancing at night. It is hard to break the routine that has been working for years. Even if it makes you uncomfortable. People often fear the change. And it’s totally human. And the older you become the harder it is to make that step. But I got tired, more than that, I was emotionally exhausted and it was time to face the challenge.
Polishing toilets, thinking golden statue
It’s been a year since I left Berlin and it’s been a year since I haven’t written a blog post. Just a year ago I was polishing toilets imagining they were golden statues. I’d pay with a €100 note in McDonalds for a €2 ice cream, saying “sorry, I don’t have smaller”. In reality we just had to break it for two of us to get paid for Cinderella job. I was rejected by the Copenhagen University where I wanted to do multi-media MA, I was rejected by hundreds of small and big companies across Europe for over a year. Rejections were like arrows in my back, making me bleed stronger and stronger.. The three diplomas I had been keeping so proudly in the folder, lost the importance and I felt like I could flush them down that toilet I’ve just polished. In the end I was not only exhausted, I became apathetic and pessimistic and I wanted to puke in that toilet. I secretly dreamed about life grabbing my hair and smashing my face against an absolute fortune.
Dublin, Google bridge. All rights reserved by Avant-Hard.
Dublin, the space office. All rights reserved by Avant-Hard.
Google. Xmas orchestra. All right reserved by Avant-Hard.
Latvia – the home I never loved
After seven years of living abroad I left 24h party people Berlin and I moved back to mum’s place. It felt miserable.
It was easy to get a job in Latvia because Latvian marked lacked specialists. I went to job interviews at well established organisations without preparation and almost always got the job. I became picky and would choose between the companies. I started working for one of the largest fashion labels in Latvia – QooQoo, organised a Twin Peaks party, did graphic design and social media work remotely for a startup in Vienna and joined an ambitious marketing agency as a social media manager. But I still was not happy, I did not believe in my future in Latvia.
I never felt the connection with Latvia. I could never deal with the extreme level of nationalism, racism, homophobia, lack of tolerance, Scandinavian prices and miserable €370 minimum wage, broken health and pension schemes.
This half a year in Latvia felt like sitting in a dark box hoping somebody will open the lead. In April all of a sudden, I got a call from Dublin and it changed everything. I packed my bags and two weeks later I left the country. After being rejected by hundreds of companies across Europe, I was the perfect fit for the #1 rated company in the world – Google.
Though honestly speaking, I feared this was a scam until I entered the European headquarters. I mean, who needs an avant-garde bottle collector/Silicon Allee toilet polisher?
Bear foot and water guns
I did not expect Google to ever select me – I was too imperfect for everybody. But what other companies saw as a disadvantage in my portfolio, Google saw as an advantage. I had the warmest welcome of my life. It felt like they waited for me their whole life. My desk looked like a birthday party – full of balloons, candies, and funny memes. They pranked me so hard too and we all laughed for like a week after. Me being an underground Berlin artist that had holes in the pockets, thought that a big corporate company like Google was meant to be a boring suit-wearing routine. No, I never read any articles about Google offices and I haven’t watched “The internship”.
And so I entered this space that looks like a playground dream of my childhood with all the toys I never had. And I question myself – who are these people wearing no shoes, shooting water guns, pranking each other, hugging after long holidays and just having a blast? These absolute strangers made me feel so special, literally that there is no better person on the planet for this position than me. They opened the doors of their homes to me, the person they have just met. And after my ego was flashed down the toilet that I polished so diligently, I suddenly felt like I am standing on the top of the Everest chewing the Extra gum. Damn cool Everest.
My team is like no other team I ever worked with. We are all very different. Different cultural backgrounds, different personalities, different political views and life values. If we were animals, we all would be different species. Like a mix of a dinosaur, a panther, a bull, an elephant, a dolphin, an owl, and a crocodile – basically the whole jungle. We are just a perfectly combined team. We are highly respective, supportive, tolerant and incredibly fun. My team are a bunch of supermen.
What blew my mind and still is blowing daily – is how much Google takes care of their employees. I could never even dream of meditating at work – well apart from sitting at my desk with the eyes closed and colleagues asking you if I was okey. Google offers a range of options how to distress, how to maintain the work balance and not overwork. The company kindly encourages you to do sports. The gym provided to anyone at any time of week has also free of charge yoga and pilates classes. Or during the lunch you can go for a swim, get a massage done or simply have a nap in the isolated char. If hitting the drums is something that will help you to relax, you can go to the music room or play computer games, play ping pong or pool and get totally detached from work for half an hour. My manager got us legos and a puzzle for this New Year’s, and as an adult you do realize that sometimes it’s the best way to have a break from work. There are special meditation sessions and a D vitamin room for the wellbeing too. There are also doctors on campus, should you need them. Google gives various relaxation options for everyone to choose what works best.
The quote below is complete opposite to the Google environment, because all of a sudden you realise that Google is your friend or as I jokingly say – Papa Google, since he cooks for me three times a day. Similarly to Scandinavian business model, Google makes sure you are happy at work and have enough time for private life. The company encourages to not stay after 6pm and also kindly reminds you of your holiday days for bigger productivity. Google motivates by providing a happy relaxed environment in all offices across the globe. There are also special perks an employee gets for outstanding performance and being Googley.
Possibilities at Google
Another thing that does not stop to amaze me is the possibilities of personal and career development. Google strives for innovation and initiative. And the sky is the limit. The projects that one can get involved in are endless. If you don’t have the skills, you can get them. Google gives the space for growth even outside of the contracted role.
For example, there is a peer-to-peer learning program where Googlers teach other Googlers on topics that can range from yoga to coding — and it’s all completely free!
In other words, Google does everything for you to be passionate about your job. This company created the atmosphere where you are self motivated to explore the limits and think outside of the box. You don’t need your manager to give you a project, you pick it yourself.
I Google, therefore I am
You never know where you will lose and where you will find. Google found me sitting in the puddle doing the math. I was trying to calculate my future, but since I was never good in maths Google said:”let’s do something different.” I have taken the role I never considered before. And to my big surprise I really enjoy it and not sure I’d go back to marketing. Google does not limit me to the title I was given, Google gives me the necessary space for being who I am. I left the puddle and the rain won’t stop me now.
And what happened to Berlin? Berlin is still there, dancing and making love to the strangers. I pass it by occasionally. Berlin is the wild bird I never managed to get into to the cage.